(reminder: today is a very good day NOT to read comments)
This is the latest PSA from the "It's On Us" campaign. The gist is that each of us has a responsibility to stop and prevent sexual assault. I am... conflicted.
On the plus side: men. Dear gods I do not understand why any man has any doubt that we men need to play a major part in preventing sexual assault. This is not a "women's" issue nor a "women's problem."
Plus: people of color, both male-appearing and female-appearing. It has both Obama and Biden, as well as some other known and unknown faces. Yay, understanding that not all your viewers are going to respond to messages from one kind of speaker.
Plus: individual responsibility. So much harm could be prevented if people would stop turning a blind eye and instead thoughtfully point out problematic behaviors. Missing stairs, anyone?
Neutral: it's choppy. It tries to be punchy and I think they're reaching for hard-hitting, but the repetition doesn't do it for me. Maybe I'm just too cynical and jaded that we've seen this kind of delivery too often. "It Gets Better" did this style well, and it feels like there have been too many imitators since.
Minus: the entire notion of devolving responsibility onto individuals may end up masking the systems and ways that sexual assault happens in our society. Yes, individuals (men) assault and individuals (of all sorts) may be in positions to help individual victims.
But what individual can say that it is on them to end the maltreatment of assault victims by, for example, higher education institutions? What individual action can move entire police forces to provide, use, maintain, and train their staff about rape kits, appropriate counseling, and supporting assault victims in what might be the most crucial and vulnerable hours? How is it an individual person's responsibility to stop press reports that perpetuate the idea that womens' words are less worthy, that womens' lives are less valuable, that womens' sexuality is somehow up for public debate?
Do we, by saying it's on us, allow these systemic and institutional mechanisms to go less noticed? Honestly, I don't know. I think we can agree that it's important to do both - individuals do have to take more responsibility, and we do need to reform the systemic structures that perpetuate sexism and condone/allow assault. My worry is that by focusing so much on the individual we're obscuring the other (maybe harder?) work.